This is the time of year I begin to think about schedules.
Unfortunately, so does everyone else! This means we’re all jumping at the bit to get our important events noticed–sports, school, church, and other activities.
I don’t mean to sound as if I don’t like having a schedule filled with things to do with family and friends. I’m absolutely grateful for a full life. But I tend to become overwhelmed before September has even begun.
I have been preparing myself for this new school year by thinking through some important issues, and I wanted to share these tips with you. I hope these suggestions can help you manage your schedule in a more joyful and purposeful way.
Margin – Do you have down time in between actives or is does your schedule tend to be jam packed with too many things to do?
Many of us have had phases in our lives when we said, “Yes,” to every volunteer opportunity, committee, and task only to find ourselves tearing out our hair as we ran between activities. This is a place I loathe. Not only do I make myself miserable when I find myself in these situations, but I make everyone around me unhappy, too.
John and I have embraced a philosophy about our schedules. We force ourselves to plan a little margin into our days and weeks. We believe it is critical to have some margin, or spare time here and there, in our lives. We teach this to our children, too.
Would you like to have more margin in your life? Would you like to have more spare time that would allow you to spend time on a hobby or just relax with a cup of tea? If so, you might need to prioritize what you are doing and cut back on some of your commitments.
I appreciate the reminder in Colossians chapter four verses five and six to “walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” This verse doesn’t tell us to season our speech with sugar – saying yes to everything, saying what everyone wants to hear – it says use salt. With grace and a desire to preserve integrity, have an answer ready when someone asks too much of you.
The bible doesn’t tell us to say, “Yes,” to everything.
Rather, we are to follow this verse: “But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.” (James 5:12 ESV) I have had to learn to love this verse. It doesn’t come naturally to me! I used to say, “Yes,” when I meant, “No,” and then complain. Now I do the hard work of saying, “No,” when I have to and everybody is better off as a result.
2. Get in sync with your family.
I have learned not to plan too many events before having a family calendar meeting. If I do, I regret it. If I commit a night before I clear it with my family, the get-together I planned ends up double booked and I have to undo all the hard work it took to plan the event in the first place!
Avoid double booking your life by having weekly family calendar meetings.
Make these meetings fun! Sit together in the coziest spots in the living room. Put on some music. Make warm drinks–whatever you think makes the calendar meeting fun. Then your family will be able to run more smoothly. You won’t be waking up in a panic each morning with questions about the day. You won’t have to interrupt your husband’s meetings with urgent scheduling questions.
Your family will thank you for doing this, and you will thank your family for taking the time to get in sync, too.
3. Keep a Sabbath.
There is a reason God had to command us humans to rest. We work hard. We worry. We scurry around town with to do lists in hand trying to squeeze the most life out of every day, every moment. We need to be told to take twenty-four hours a week to cease our striving.
It’s important to rest. It’s essential to our own health and well being to forget our worries on a regular basis.
Keeping a Sunday sabbath is tough for pastors and families. After all, Sunday is often the busiest day of the week!
Pastors and their families have to find a way to carve out a different sabbath. Many pastors take off Mondays, but where does that leave church planter’s wives? We either work, take care of kids, or do both.
There is no taking off Monday for me, you might say. If that’s the case, then you’re going to have to get a bit more creative. Find a way to rest for 24 hours in a row another way. Maybe your sabbath has to be from noon on Fridays until noon on Saturdays. Would that feel nice? You deserve it. You need it. God even commanded for us to do this!
Find a way to have a sabbath for yourself, too. Even CNN has written a recent article about how much better off we would be if we ceased our work one day a week. Check out this link if you’re interested in reading the article…
God is smart. He knows how he created us and and the world. He knows we get tired and depressed when we try too hard. He knows when we try to do everything ourselves and forget to rely on him we end up anxious.
Please consider carefully what your year will look like. I hope some of these tips will help you like they have helped me!
You see how hard these amazing women work. They are taking care of their families, working hard at church, and carrying many burdens. Please help these church planters and wives find better ways to schedule their lives so they have ample time for you. We love you and want to make our lives count. Help us to prioritize, pray first, and plan essential rest in our lives. We love you!